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Minister wants indoor arts and dance classes back in September in line with schools reopening

The Taoiseach, Tánasite and the chief medical officer have been invited to attend a meeting with live entertainment reps.

The minister has invited the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, their officials and the chief medical officer to a meeting with live event sector on Wednesday.
The minister has invited the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, their officials and the chief medical officer to a meeting with live event sector on Wednesday.
Image: Sam Boal

INDOOR ARTS, DRAMA and dance classes should be back in September in line with the schools reopening, Arts and Culture Minister Catherine Martin has proposed. 

The minister’s office has given an updated note to senior government figures, in addition to her priority proposals for the reopening of the cultural and live entertainment sector, which she submitted two weeks ago. 

In her latest submission, the minister has also requested “a return to full capacity indoor events” with admission on presentation of proof of vaccination.

It is understood she is seeking this from the earliest possible date citing the successful roll out of the vaccination programme and its recent extension to younger cohorts.

The minister is believed to make the case in the note that it is “vital” for producers and festivals to salvage what they can right now and to give them vital lead in times to plan for future events.

Martin is due to meet with representatives from the live entertainment industry on Wednesday. 

Last week there was some controversy that the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and the chief medical officer did not attend the stakeholders meeting, despite an invitation being issued. 

When asked if Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar or Tony Holohan will attend the meeting this week, a government spokesperson told The Journal that the government will shortly publish its roadmap for managing Covid-19, which includes the further re-opening of various sectors from the arts and live entertainment to indoor sports, and the workplace.

“NPHET will meet on Wednesday to provide the latest public health advice, and the sub-committee on Covid will then meet on Friday.

“Cabinet will sit on August 31 to decide and sign off on a comprehensive plan on the next stages, and timelines, for re-opening,” said the spokesperson. 

“Government will work with each sector to facilitate the next stages of that re-opening.

“The Taoiseach regularly meets with various groups and has no issue meeting with the sector when one can be scheduled,” he added. 

The Taoiseach is promising “a comprehensive roadmap” for how restrictions will be lifted over the coming months and the beginning of “a new era in the management of Covid-19″.

Martin said last week that the roadmap will provide a plan up to “hopefully to the end of the year, maybe beyond”. 

The major outstanding issue is the plan, or lack thereof, for the live music and entertainment industry. Advocates within the sector have been pleading for a specific roadmap for their sector for some time but nothing so far has been signed-off. 

Invitation

It is understood that an invitation from Minister Martin’s department arrived today inviting the Taoiseach or an official from his department to attend on Wednesday.

An official rather than the Taoiseach is likely to attend, it is believed.

The sector has for some time looked like the forgotten child as various sectors reopened over the summer months but additional pressure is now being brought to bear.

This is largely because comparisons are difficult to ignore with the massively increased crowds at sporting events and the regularity of live gigs north of the border.

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Over the weekend, 40,000 people attended Croke Park for the All-Ireland Hurling final,  with another 40,000 at the football in three weeks’ time. 

Irish bands Kodaline and Fontaines DC have each played large gigs in Northern Ireland in the past week with concert organisers in the Republic pointing out that they cannot even sell tickets let alone host an event. 

NO FEE KODALINE Over 5,000 people attending the Kodaline concert in Belfast, held without restrictions for patrons fully vaccinated or proof of negative Covid test. Source: James Rollins

Government sources have said that the live entertainment sector is already front and foremost in the government’s plans, stating that the Minister Martin is free to make a presentation on her proposals to the sub-Cabinet meeting on Friday. 

There is frustration at Cabinet level over the slow pace of some of the easing of restrictions, with some ministers questioning the benefits of some of the rules relative to those being imposed in Europe

While ministers have said there is no real sense as to what NPHET will recommend on Wednesday in terms of the easing of restrictions, though it is believed they are concerned about the rising case numbers. 

However, ministers are concerned that the high level of vaccinations is not being fed into the recommendations, as it is in other countries.

In terms of live music events, senior sources have said they are afraid the window to organise any large-scale music events in September has now been missed, with the summer being lost for the sector. 

With a push for both indoor and outdoor events to reopen, sources stated they would hope to see events in venues like Vicar St, Whelans, and The Olympia operating in October, by the latest.  

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